Cost of Preschool
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Cost of Preschool
We moved to Berkeley from Colorado about 4 months ago and I've just begun looking
for a preschool for my son. He is 3 1/4, but not yet potty trained.
The places I've found so far range in price from $1000 per month to $1000 per week!
Am I missing something? We're not poor, but we certainly don't have an extra $1000
dollars laying around every month either!
I stay at home for now and we're expecting another baby in November. My husband
makes around $200,000. Most of our money goes to rent, car payment, bills, food -
we don't live a luxurious lifestyle. Would we qualify for grants or financial aid?!
Are there wonderful schools for less money?
I would like small class size, experience-based learning, lots of nature, and
socialization. I'm looking at preschools mostly for the socialization - and once
baby comes I'm going to need the extra time.
I feel like home-based schools are more geared toward daycare and not pre-school and
I also prefer a proper school setting.
Please, do you have any advice? Tips? Experiences?
Thank you very much!!
Welcome to Berkeley! Yep, preschool is pricey here (though $1K a week is over the
top--you should be able to find many good programs to choose from in the $1500ish
per month range for full-time, and less if you only need part-time). The BPN
archives have reviews of most of the Berkeley preschools. I would start by sitting
down with your budget, though. We are a two-income family that makes far less
combined than your husband does, and we pay $2K a month in daycare costs without
any real financial hardship (sure, we watch what we spend, but we haven't had to
cut back on things like meals out, etc.) Unless you are paying a huge, huge amount
in rent or have a lot of debt racked up, adding $1K a month for preschool should
be very workable. I would sit down and go through your finances to see where the
money is going--even accounting for taxes and retirement savings, you are working
with $8-10K a month in take-home pay, which should be more than adequate for a
family of four in Berkeley unless something in your budget is way out of line with
typical costs here. If it's rent and you have 2-4 years of preschool ahead of you,
I'd consider moving into a more modest home for now. (You can find 3BR rentals for
under $4K--often well under--in virtually all Berkeley neighborhoods.) If it's
debt that's eating up your income, this is the time to get on top of it with a
plan of action. Good luck!
Another local preschool mama
At an income of $200k for your family no, you certainly will not qualify for
financial aide. And no offense, but nor should you. Was that number a typo? You
want childcare as a convenience/luxury, not as a need. There are many families
making far, far less who actually need full time care so that both parents can
work to get by. My husband and I make a little less than that (combined), and
feel like we're doing pretty well financially - certainly able to comfortably pay
for our childcare costs of $1,300/month. It sounds like you need to take a look
at your budget and figure out where the money is going, because at $200k you
shouldn't need financial aide for preschool. It also sounds like you don't need a
full day program. There are many part-day programs that cost at/under $1k per
I think if you can find a full-time preschool for $1000/mo you are doing pretty
well and I have never heard of one for as much as $1000/wk. When our son was in
school and not yet potty trained we paid more like $1200 (at the highest our full
time infant/toddler care was $1470/mo about 3-4 years ago). If you will be off
work with the baby (I wasn't clear if you work outside the home or not), then you
could definitely save $$ with a part time or coop preschool.
While I admit that I do not know what your budget is like, I am shocked that you
find $1000/mo too expensive given your husbands salary of $200K. When our son was
in preschool our family gross income was about $140K (with two parents working
fulltime)and we found the funds. Truly, many cover preschool/childcare on a
fraction of your income. You may need to rethink how you spend your money.
Preschool teachers, especially in a non-homebased school setting, are
professionals who do amazing and challenging work--you get what you pay for in my
opinion. I only looked at schools where the employees mostly had ECE credits,
received benefits, and had low staff turnover. Schools like this will run around
$1100-$1500/mo for full time with a possible premium for kids not potty trained,
extended hours, etc.
another mama lucky to afford good care
Preschool programs, 9am-3pm, five days a week, generally cost no more than $1,500
a month. Your husband is more than capable of supporting his family and sending a
kid to preschool on a 200k salary (which is considered high, even in the Bay
Area). You need to take a deep breath. Do not think of your child's tuition as
''extra dollars laying around.'' It is your primary responsibility as parents to
provide your child with an education, and to pay for it. That's what people who
make a lot of money do. If your husband's salary is truly not adequate to
accomplish this, then you will need to go to work.
Many of us with less than 200K/year pay much more than $1000/month for quality
daycare/preschool. I can't believe you would think about asking for financial aid
with that level of income! Pretty sure you could find the money if this is a
priority for you.
surprised by this question
Daycare in the bay area is very expensive. $1000 a month is on the very low side.
$2000-$2300 would be about the average cost for a non-home abased daycare that
provides infant care; $1200-$2000 would be the average cost for a preschooler.
Most likely the cost would go up if the child is not potty trained.
$200,000 is still a healthy salary for the bay area. Nobody is going to provide
you scholarships or financial aid for preschool. Those scholarships and financial
aid is going to go aid the people who need it - the working poor who can't afford
daycare and qualify for state aid (which is getting cut) or private aid (which
there is not a lot of for preschool). $200,000 income is not poverty level. As a
stay at home mom, you would also not qualify because those funds would be reserved
for somebody who is going to school or working and need child care in order to
work or attending training so they may eventually get a job in the future.
I'd suggest 1) Potty train your son. 3 1/4 is too old to be wearing diapers. 2)
Look for preschool classes through the town you live in. Particularly for the
summer, there will be part time preschool type development classes through the
Emeryville and Oakland recreation department, I don't know about berkeley. Those
classes are affordable. Usually it's 2-3 a week for a couple of hours, but it's an
option. 3) analyze your expenses, and cut money where you can if you want to
afford daycare, or you get a job to afford the daycare. The bay area is expensive,
few couples can afford to have 1 person be a stay at home parent, let alone have 1
person make $200,000. 4) If you don't have money, then find moms who want to do a
preschool cooperative and have an interest in education and want to work together
to socialize their preschool age children.
My husband I both work, and make a decent salary for the bay area, but together we
don't even approach $200,000 in income. We own a house, have a mortgage payment, 2
car payments, credit card debt, student loans. We have a 5 year old and I've had
her in ECDC in emeryville for the last 5 years. For infant care, I paid about
$1500 a year. For Toddler care, I paid about $1400. The price has risen and I now
pay about $1300-1400 for preschool (or rather I did, I pulled her out and put her
in transitional kindergarten in OUSD, thereby cutting my costs). I'd never dream
of asking for a handout at ECDC, because there are far needier parents who are low
On $200,000 income you should be able to manage somehow. I've seen too many people
making it work on $50,000 a year or $100,000 a year.
Most of the preschools I looked into that are in Berkeley and Oakland cost around
$1200-$1800 a month for full time attendance. I am not sure if you are looking for
full or part time. I've never heard of a preschool in the bay area that cost $4000
a month which I agree is outrageous. There's a lot of wonderful preschools in
Berkeley and Oakland. I recommend reading some reviews on BPN and going on some of
the tours to see what fits best for you and your family based on cost, location
and your child's needs.
Grants or financial aid!!?? No, it'll be given to people who genuinely need
financial aid. Your husband earns more than $16,000 per month and you don't have
$1,000 to spend on preschool? You must be able to scrape together the money. My
twins will be in kindergarten this fall. I have spent $1,500 per month on
childcare since they were 5 months old. And that's PART TIME. I stay home one day
and my mom watches them one day. And my take home pay is only $4,000 per month. I
don't qualify for a scholarship because I make ''too much''. Somehow I pay for
rent, food, clothes, insurance, phone, and other essentials with the other $2,500.
I contribute $200 to my 401k per month because that's all I can do. It's taken me
5 years for it to equal one month of your husband's salary. I break even every
month and sometimes borrow from my mom when I need to. I always pay her back
before I borrow again. And I know there are plenty of people out there who make
less money than me. My husband is self employed and I can't even remember the last
year that he made a profit so no help with from him. We haven't had a vacation
since 2009 and that was just to visit family to show off the twins.
I'm sorry if this sounds rude, but I think you are in need of a little
perspective. Please don't fill out any financial aid forms, or you will get
laughed at (or they will think you are delusional).
I assume you are looking for a half day preschool, since you are staying at home
right now. I can't speak to the cost of 1/2 day schools, but $1000 a month would
be very reasonable for an all-day preschool.
If you can't swing $1000 a month on a $200K salary after rent and car payments,
you need to reconsider your rent and your car. And no, you wouldn't qualify for
I am not sure whether to be offended or sad for your perceived predicament. I
cannot even dream of a family income of $200,000 a year, not to mention the
absolute luxury of staying home with my child instead of working to support her.
My advice to you vis a vis cheaper pre school? Sell the cars you are making
payments on. Move to a cheaper rental. Shop at the farmers market and make all
your own food. Don't buy ANYTHING new. Cancel cable, internet, and all classes
and memberships that require a fee. Keep your child at home until he is old
enough to enter free, public kindergarten. Join a co-op pre school and volunteer
as many hours as possible. In short, start living like the rest of us.
Also living on one income - $60k and feeling lucky
I couldn't tell from your post whether you are looking for part-time or full-time
preschool (ie:how many hours a day and how many days per week). You can
definitely find a nice 3-day a week, 9-12 program for far less than $1000 per
month. Several friends have loved Gay Austin, for example. I do not think you
would qualify for financial aid, and honestly I don't think you should have
trouble finding money in your budget for preschool. $200,000 per year is
certainly a livable wage, and although you think you are not living extravagantly,
just the fact that you can stay home is somewhat of a luxury in these parts.
Unless there is some mitigating factor (enormous debt, supporting ailing parents,
etc) you should definitely be able to afford preschool. I don't think most of us
think we have an extra $1000 a month lying around, but you find ways to prioritize
your spending and make it work. Honestly, I think financial aid needs to be
reserved for people who cannot afford school/daycare/etc., and at $200,000 a year,
there has to be some room to adjust. Again, if there is some mitigating factor,
speak with the preschools and they may work something out for you. Some ideas to
consider: 1. Part-time programs and 2. Cooperative preschools: there are lots of
those with lower costs and really great programs. Good luck, there are lots of
great options for preschools and I bet you'll find a great fit.
Big fan of preschools
Preschool for around $1000/month is definitely normal around here, and probably on
the low end (depending on hours/week), you aren't missing anything. We make less
than you, but we have budgeted for childcare - I feel for you if you weren't aware
of the expense before making your budget. You might consider whether you can spend
less on housing or car, since those are likely your top expenses. People qualify
for aid if both parents are working and it still isn't enough to cover childcare,
so it sounds like you would not qualify. You could consider working part-time to
offset the cost. I wonder if you are currently saving a lot of money? Some of that
savings might need to go on hold until after preschool. Good luck!
budget, budget, budget
As a point of reference, I am a single mom / only parent, who has to work f/t and
earns about 50,000/yr. Even I have had a very hard time receiving any financial
aid. It's very hard to find anything less than $1,000/month. Welcome to the Bay
Oh, what I could do with 200K
I currently spend about $300/wk on my child's part-time preschool. If I
increase it to
5 days a week, then I will be spending nearly $2000 a month on preschools
around $23000 a year. Is this normal and reasonable? Should I change my
how much preschool costs? Although I can technically afford it, it just
expensive to me and I have a second son who will start preschool in a
year.... I like my
son's schools, but should I reconsider what schools they go to based on
costs for both
Feeling the Pinch!
OUCH!!!! We've put 3 kids through preschool and if we had to pay
what you are for part-time preschool, I'd have lost my mind years
ago! I am assuming this is for part-time, meaning not daily, but
all day when your child goes? We had a really great preschool in
Pleasant Hill that we paid $300/month for 3 mornings
(8:45-11:45am). I cannot imagine that what you are paying is the
norm, and there are many really good programs out there. Much as
a good preschool was important to us, it's not rocket science!
Good luck --
Hi. Yes, $2K is not atypical for a full time preschool for one
child in the Bay Area. Do I think it's reasonable.. it depends on
the family. For us, absolutely not, so I used savvysource.com and
a spreadsheet to find the preschools that were within our (much
lower) pricepoint. I pay $1170/month, for 3 days a week, for two
kids. So about exactly half what you are paying. You'll have to
look at your finances, maybe cast a wider net geographically or
be flexible in other areas (you might not find that perfect
school that provides all organic hot lunches and bilingual
lessons, for example, on a budget!). On the other hand since you
already have one son in the school, your second is probably
guaranteed a spot so that's worth a lot in peace of mind. I've
known families that pay less than you do and those that pay more
(sometimes adding a nanny on top of preschool!) - so it's all
about your family's priorities and ability to pay.
- practical mom of 2 preschoolers
Recentely I attended some preschools' open house and was kind
of shocked by some of the costs/fees charged by some schools. I
would really appreciate your input/opinion/ on this based on
your experince. For instance:
Step One - No question it is a very good preschool. But on top
of its very expensive tuition, the school charges $90/year
Capital Fund Fee, Earthquake Fee $75/year, Materials Fee $90
(AND MORE if your kids are there also afternoon to 3:30 and
5:30 pm RESPECTIVELY!!). Sorry but I personally found this
pretty unreasonable and thus annoying or hard to accept. And my
friend (she is an experienced parent in selecting schools etc.)
in San Bruno echoes my view.
Berkeley Montessor School -
charges $800 enrollment fee for pre-K. And not only you don't
get a discount if you pay tuition for the whole year (which is
offered by a lot schools as I learned), you will be charged a
financial fee if you pay tuition monthly!!! Policies like that
just kill all my desire to look further into the school.
Being so new in this field, I would love to hear all your
experinced opinions on these sensitve issues concerning costs.
Thanks very much in advance.
My co-op preschool has all sorts of "hidden" fees that are not
included in the tuition. There is a yearly $100 "Earthquake Fee"
and there is a $100 fee is you don't buy scrip. There is a fee if you don't
contribute something to the yearly auction, and of course you are
charged for not doing your weekly participation or your yearly
maintenance obligation. There is a building
fund fee and there is a materials fee.
Of course, the school only runs till 12:30, so if you need longer
than that, there is the additional expense of afternoon childcare.
You'd think that a co-op
would be cheaper than a non-co-op school but after all the fees,
it comes pretty close to a regular preschool! It's a good idea
to ask about extra fees when you are looking at preschools, because
many, if not most, have them, and inlcuding them will give you
a more realistic picture of your preschool costs.
The preschools I investigated did not seem to charge such fees. There
was a basic rate for full time (which was definitely different than
morning-only), and then additional charges for extra classes (e.g. if the
child elected to attend optional gymnastics/art/music classes). However,
these preschools were also quite expensive, in the $900 - $1000 per
month range. So they might in effect be rolling those extra charges into
the monthly rate.
I think I might calculate the total cost per month and just compare that.
I wanted to write in response to the fees charged by Berkeley Montessori School.
Both of my sons are at the school, and I know it is awfully expensive, especially the
preschool program. But you really get your money's worth! The preschool is a
fantastic program that gives children a huge head start in many ways, and by
coming to the school at this age, you get in at the ground level at a great school
that you can stay with right through middle school. The teachers are so dedicated
and caring with the children, and the classroom environments are so rich!
The $800 fee is a capitalization fee, and it is there because families already at the
school paid, through donations and tuition, for the retrofit of the preschool and new
ecologically-green elementary school campus. Since new families enjoy the fruits of
those labors, the idea is that they share some of the burden by paying this one-time
fee. I know it is difficult for families to pay these big fees, but providing such
resources is terribly expensive in the Bay Area, and this is one way the school is
trying to shoulder those costs.
In terms of whether you're paying monthly or all at once, you can look at it either
way, depending on how you want to spin it. You can consider it a discount if you
pay all at once, or you can consider it an extra fee if you pay monthly. It would be
better, in my opinion, if the school spinned it as a discount if you pay all at once,
but in the end, the effect is the same. The school is not in this to make money--
BMS is a non-profit school.
Our family struggles to pay tuition at BMS. But we consider it such a great program
for our children that we've tried to look beyond the price to see what the school
really has to offer.
re step one's rates - definitely this is an expensive
preschool. but I think it's important to keep in mind that it
is a non-profit, so even though the costs might seem
unreasonable, they are high because that's what they feel they
need in order to maintain the high quality of the school. for
example, step one offers their teachers good pay and good
benefits. they take this very seriously, and because of this
they are able to retain good teachers for many many years. I
think this makes a huge difference. that said, if the cost is
so high that it 'annoys' you, then of course you should try to
find a cheaper school.
a step one believer
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